U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Kazakhstan on Sunday (February 2) to press Beijing over its treatment of Muslim minorities - a sensitive matter for the central Asian nation which has close ties with neighboring China.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "It's always important to make sure that people of all ethnicities, all religious backgrounds have the human rights and dignity that they deserve." Speaking on a visit to the Kazakh capital Nur Sultan, Pompeo said he had raised the matter with Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation.
We discussed trafficking in persons and the plight of the more than one million Uighur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs who the Chinese Communist Party has detained in Xinjiang just across the Kazakh border.
The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for an immediate end to this repression.
We ask simply for them to provide safe refuge and asylum to those seeking to flee China.
Protect human dignity - just do what's right." Tleuberdi made no comment on the Uighur issue and focused instead on economic and security cooperation.
The United Nations and human rights groups estimate between one million and one million people, mostly ethnic Uighur Muslims, have been detained in harsh conditions as a part of what Beijing calls an anti-terrorism campaign.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uighurs and says the camps provide vocational training.